LAKE HOPATCONG — In 2013, the New Jersey State Police, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake Hopatcong Foundation created a partnership for the sole purpose of improving safety and security for residents and visitors to Lake Hopatcong by adding additional police patrols on the lake.
Through the program, 18 additional patrols were conducted—with a state trooper and sheriff’s officer on each shift—adding 108 hours of coverage on the lake during what were deemed to be key times of need, on summer weekend evenings. The Lake Hopatcong Foundation reported that no boating accidents were reported during these extra police patrols on the lake. The LHF funded the cost of the troopers and vessels used on each shift. The Morris County Sheriff’s Office supplied marine-trained officers for each shift.
“It is so important for us all to work together to serve the public. This partnership has an extremely positive effect on safety at Lake Hopatcong and has definitely served the public well,” said Morris County Sheriff Ed Rochford.
Sixty-nine violations did occur during those shifts, with warnings generally issued for those violations. Hundreds of property checks also took place during the added patrols, which were focused on improving public safety.
"Based on our recent discussions with the state police, there is little doubt these additional patrols improved the level of safety this past boating season,” said David Rubenstein of Mt. Arlington, who leads the public safety volunteer team at the Lake Hopatcong Foundation. “The state police informed us that there was not a single accident during Foundation funded night patrols, and clearly that was a result of the enhanced presence on the lake.”
In a meeting to recap the program, the N.J. State Police indicated that none of the night shifts would have occurred during the 2013 boating season if not for the LHF funding those patrols.
In a recent survey of local residents, safety on Lake Hopatcong was one of the top concerns, so the Lake Hopatcong Foundation aims to continue this and other efforts to improve safety and emergency communication and coordination on Lake Hopatcong.
“We’re hoping to continue and even improve upon the success of this year’s program if we can support it,” said Thomas D. Flinn, Lake Hopatcong Foundation trustee and one of the members of the foundation’s public safety team. “One of the things we are looking to do is to reduce the cost of the program by asking the State Police to contribute the use of the vessels, since they are on the lake anyway. We would then be in a position to increase the amount of patrols by 50 percent.”
“It’s important that people feel safe when they travel with their family on Lake Hopatcong, whether by boat, kayak, swimming, sailing, or any other mode of transportation or recreation," said Jessica K. Murphy, president of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.
"Anything we can do to encourage safe boating and make people feel more secure while they’re out there improves the quality of life for all who use Lake Hopatcong,” she added.